Archive for June, 2012

Best iPad apps for children

Anyone who is lucky enough to have both children and an iPad will know what a great combination they make…

After exhaustive testing, here is my top 5 ipad apps for children

  1. Toca Hair Salon.  The team at Toca Boca have got iPad games for children completely sewn up.  Innovative, playful and delightful, from the quirky illustrative style to the intuitive game play, their games are some of the best around.  It’s hard to choose a favourite but Hair Salon wins for me because it appeals to all ages, from 4 up to around 10.
  2. The Monster at the End of This Book.  It’s Grover from Sesame Street and he’s very worried about the monster at the end of the book, so much so that he will try to stop you turning the pages.  You probably won’t get hours and hours of use out of it but it’s very funny and engaging. Perfect for ages four to six.
  3. Tiny Bang Story (see screenshot).  I’m not sure that strictly speaking this was created solely for children but my 10 year old loves this beautiful, immersive game.  There are no instructions and you have to work out what to do.  If you like clear game rules and direction then you may find this frustrating but I think the reason it appeals so much to children is because they aren’t yet in the adult mindset of rules and instructions.
  4. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox.  For younger children, around two to five years, this is a cute, fun game where children have to count, recognise colours and play simple games.  Get a game right and they can choose a virtual sticker and put it on their wall. Have never met I child who doesn’t like this game.
  5. Angry Birds.  Unless you live on the moon, chances are you’ll be aware of this game. Equally fun whether you’re 5, 10 or, ahem, slightly older.

Is self-employment falling out of favour?

I’ve been self employed for over 10 years.  When I first started working for myself I was worried about whether or not I would enjoy it.  I was always the kind of person that liked to be surrounded by others at work, for conversation, inspiration and the social side of things.  But sometimes other decisions are more important (young children etc) and so I embarked upon my life as a sole trader.

Mostly I’ve really enjoyed it.  Of course twitter and social networks have made life as a self-employed person so much easier than it used to be.  And the benefits of working for yourself are obvious: flexibility, control, variety.

Recently however I’ve noticed that a quite a few people who have been self-employed for years, have taken positions in companies or agencies.  Stephen Davies, Jonathan Hopkins, Brendan Cooper, all extremely experienced and respected in the industry.  Not sure that you could classify it as a trend as yet but it got me thinking about why it might be.

There are, of course, downsides to working for yourself, at times it can be isolating, there is the feast or famine syndrome which, if you’re not careful, can result in you stretching yourself too thinly and heaping pressure on yourself, and as an ‘outsider’ to a client organisation, it can be difficult to really affect change.

Over the years I’ve been offered a few positions, most of them not really of interest but a couple of them more recently did give me pause for thought as to whether it was worth giving up the benefits of self-employment.  The answer was no, but I admit I was tempted.  I also have the added issue of being a shareholder and director in a business, Pyjama Drama, so it’s not really on the cards for me to ever go back to being an employee (although hopefully I’m not tempting fate with that comment).

But I’d be interested in what others think.  We’re constantly hearing about the move to a more flexible workforce and less of the traditional 9-5 work pattern but I wonder, in the digital industries at least, if the demand for really experienced and skilled individuals and the lure of roles that offer real scope to make a mark, is starting to pull people back into employment?

* You can read the full Storify of the conversation on twitter here. (I haven’t got around to updated WP yet so can’t embed it)

Thinking Digital 2012

This year’s Thinking Digital was much anticipated (particularly after my love fest last year…) and it didn’t disappoint.  Once again, an eclectic mix of speakers enthralled, entertained and amazed the audience.  I always think that reading about live events is similar to listen to someone talking about their dreams; to them it was staggering, to you it seems less incredible.

But once again I would urge you to put Thinking Digital on your list for next year.  It’s not just the speakers that makes it great, it’s the intimacy of the event that is perfectly placed to encourage conversations between like-minded souls.

It’s incredibly difficult to single out highlights but if forced…

Our social media panel at TDC University: it’s probably cheating to choose something I was involved with (as panel chair) but with such knowledgeable set of panelists, there were some great debates around the future of established and newer platforms and emerging trends, such as social discovery, niche networks, privacy issues and social businesses

Mikko Hypponen : an eye-opening and somewhat alarming talk about the dangers of internet virus.  Clearly we saw a tip of an (albeit frightening) iceberg.  I dread to think of the things this guy has seen but it’s good to know that people like him are on the case.

Pam Warhurst from Incredible Edible: nothing to do with digital or technology but everything to do with the power of working collaboratively and just getting on with getting stuff done.  There were quite a few damp eyes in the audience by the end.

Sugata Mitra: Having seen Sugata before at Guardian Active8, I was aware of the incredible work done by this charming, humble man. Genuinely revolutionising the way we think about education and the way in which its delivered.  Go read about his work.

Richard Banks: an interaction designer at Microsoft who made us all consider our digital legacies and how future generations will deal with the mountains of content we are all creating.

Jennifer Gardy: Every audience member fell for this intelligent, engaging and funny scientist, who spoke about her work researching contagious diseases.  The little book she ‘just wrote’ showed that she’s also an amazing cartoonist and writer.  Is it fair for one person to have so much talent?

I conducted a few audio interviews.  A cracking one with Tom Scott, which sadly crashed half way through and I didn’t find out until much later (gutted as he’s such interesting character with an usual skill set – how many programmers do you know that can do stand up comedy?).

Sarah Hartley about notice and the future of hyperlocal journalism

Will McInnes about running a business that has an open and transparent business model

Adrian Hon from Six to Start (creators of the hugely popular Zombies! Run) about how he turned his agency into a product company and  funding projects through crowd sourcing sites like Kickstarter.

Thanks Herb.  Until next year.

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